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Basics of Literary Research

Three Types of Information You Need

There are three types of information you will need to find as you begin your literary research.  These are:

  • Primary Sources
  • Background Information
  • Secondary Literary Criticism  


You will obviously engage with the primary source material(s) the most, as you analyze the plot, setting, point of view, characterization, symbol, metaphor, genre, use of irony, etc.  However, other key information is background information about the author's historical, social, political or economic context, particularly when the work was written.  Biographical information or other reference information can be helpful here.  In addition, depending upon your instructor, you will also engage with any number of other works of secondary literary criticism written by experts in the field of literature.

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